“Driller”: The XXX “Thriller” parody that answers the question: “What would Michael Jackson’s werewolf penis look like?”

By on June 24, 2016

Michael Jackson’s sixth studio album, Thriller, was released November 30th 1982, rapidly becoming the best-selling album of all time and catapulting the singer to previously unimagined levels of international superstardom.

Soon he was appearing at the Reagan White House, signing endorsement contracts for sums that rivaled the GDPs of many third world countries, and merchandised to an extent that would almost make the members of KISS feel self-conscious.

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In a decidedly postmodern twist, Thriller was so popular that even a VHS tape about the making of the titular video became a bestseller. Jackson was at the zenith of his fame, and inevitably over-saturation led many people to tire of his omnipresence.

One of these people was the pseudonymous Joyce James, one-time editor of porn review Cinema Blue. “Sick to death” of the White-Gloved One, James, — along with rival porn editor and extraterrestrial enthusiast, Timothy “Mr. UFO” Beckley — conspired to take the King of Pop down a few pegs.

Their vision: create a cult XXX hybrid of Thriller and The Rocky Horror Picture Show called Driller they could simultaneously market to both the midnight movie and raincoat demographics.

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Unfortunately for the pair of would-be satirists, attempting to intentionally make a cult film betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of cult aesthetics. The finished product is almost inevitably doomed to failure.

Driller was no exception. But while the film is largely unsuccessful as parody or pornographic cash-in it does stand as a sporadically entertaining artifact of the early ‘80s pop milieu, one that inevitably leaves the audience interested more in the filmmaking process than the film itself.

Unless, that is, you have a fetish for watching people in cheap monster makeup fuck on a rundown New York soundstage, in which case you’ve just hit the jackpot.

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Driller begins with the Brad & Janet-esque Dan and Louise (Dick Howard and Taija Rae) attending a concert by The Hot Star, played by an actor credited as “The Sensational Mr. J,” who vaguely resembles a Jackson impersonator by way of Paris Is Burning.

Dan escorts Louise home and after some of the least arousing coupling ever committed to film – “Dan you’re such a pig! You got it all over my glasses!” – she retires for the night and falls asleep watching a horror movie on TV.

The viewer is then treated to a reasonable approximation of John Landis’ Thriller video as zombies break into Louise’s room and dance with Mr. J to the song “Driller” in a manner that could honestly be described as choreographed. At one point the lyrics go “I am the reality of what was once your fantasy,” which already feels more like a barb aimed at the producers than a come-on.

Eventually the number ends with Mr. J transforming into a surprisingly good version of the werewolf from Thriller, albeit now packing a two-foot-long prehensile erection.

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The scene grinds on as a skid row version of Borowczyk’s La Bête, culminating with a money shot that would make many hentai directors feel a little queasy. And with that the movie climaxes prematurely twenty minutes in.

One can almost imagine the producers in a moment of post-orgasmic clarity realizing “Shit… there’s still almost an hour left to kill…”

Having dispensed with the pop culturally relevant portion of Driller viewers without the aforementioned monster fetish can stop watching, secure in the knowledge that they’re not missing much. For those bottom feeders horny/stoned enough to soldier on, the plotless remainder of the film consists of Louise wandering around The Hot Star’s “castle” reacting to things while people in Halloween costumes have unappealing, overdubbed sex.

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A guy in a Quasimodo mask with a terrible Peter Lorre accent dominates a woman in a dungeon. S&M regular George Payne takes part in a threesome while chanting in Latin. Lesbians rub what appear to be penis-shaped table lamps against each other. All this is followed by a zombie orgy that’s inexplicably narrated by a participant in a Richard Nixon mask who make Watergate jokes for the duration of the scene.

To further pad-out the running time, the hardcore action is intercut with an interminable Mr. J dance routine to a song called “Zombie Night” which kind of sounds like a stolen Debarge instrumental.

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Finally Louise gets it on with a gang of anonymous creeps before waking up in her own bed. Was it all a nightmare? Suddenly the doorbell rings. It’s Mr. J, whose monster-chauffeured limo has broken down outside Louise’s house. He asks if he can use the phone. The End.

Shot in four days for approximately $100,000 dollars, the whole affair reeks of overreaching and grand plans hampered by a lack of time and talent. Any attempts to satirize Jackson or RHPS are abandoned less than a third of the way into to the movie.

James — who had never directed more than the occasional photo shoot — claims it was the worst four days of her life and it shows.

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According to Beckley, production coordinator Richard Mahler (aka Roger Watkins, director of the notorious faux-snuff film Last House on Dead End Street) attempted to sabotage the film for hiring a straight crew over his porn associates before disappearing altogether. Sets malfunctioned, actresses balked at questionable sex toys, and eventually the whole crew mutinied, forcing Joyce to hurriedly wrap production.

Too hardcore for the midnight movie circuit, too weird to masturbate to, Driller eventually opened at the Eighth Street Theatre in Greenwich Village and played a handful of drive-ins before disappearing in the deluge of XXX tapes flooding the new home video market.

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If anyone from Michael Jackson’s camp was offended by the proceedings they were smart enough to ignore it, allowing the movie to expire as ephemera rather than extend its shelf life by demanding the producers cease and desist. Not that it would have made much difference.

Despite Hustler magazine’s proclamation that Driller “Picks up where Rocky Horror Picture Show, Night Dreams, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller leave off,” the film is a mess. And knowing what we do about Jackson now, it was also a missed opportunity for vicious satire, but what did you expect? Terry Southern?

Watch the clips, have a few laughs, and be glad we didn’t do a piece on the surprising number of nauseating hardcore E.T. rip offs instead.

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About Travis Box

Aries. DJ, vinyl enthusiast, and film programmer from the City of Hate. His writing credits to date include several hundred submissions to Penthouse Forum, still largely unpublished.